Demoting Ryan Roberts Shows Just How Much Rays Value Wil Myers

By Robbie Knopf

We know the Rays are not exactly known for being flush with cash. With that in mind, it’s clear why having a player like Wil Myers as a key part of their roster is especially attractive to them. Pending an extension that’s about to be announced, Myers will make just the prorated big league minimum the rest of the season, somewhere around $270,000 assuming he’s on the roster for the Rays’ final 93 games. If Myers plays the way that the Rays know he’s capable, that will be a tremendous value for a team-changing player. In reality, though, the Rays are actually paying a whole lot more than that for Myers’ services for the remainder of 2013.

In a corresponding move to calling up Myers, the Rays sent down infielder Ryan Roberts, Roberts’ final minor league option. Here’s the catch: Roberts’ salary this season is $2.95 million. Roberts will not be in the minor leagues the entire season, but as long as he is, his salary is basically dead money on the Rays’ payroll. It will take a little over two weeks for what Roberts is making at Triple-A to exceed Myers’ earnings for the rest of the season. From a pure salary basis, the Rays are certainly going well into the red to exchange Myers for Roberts on their major league roster, and that’s an extremely uncharacteristic move. Three million dollars wouldn’t be much money for most teams, but for the Rays, it matters more than most. Wouldn’t you think that the Rays would at least designate Roberts for assignment and see if they could trade him or at least have another team claim his salary if he’s not going to be on their major league roster anyway? Well, in this case, they’re not, and that’s as telling as can be.

The Rays believe in Wil Myers enough to let a few million dollars in Roberts’ salary go down the drain. They are confident that even if his salary isn’t quite the bargain that it is when you factor in Roberts’ demotion, he will be a good enough player to offset that. We will we have to see if and when Roberts returns to the major leagues. Maybe this is just a temporary move while the Rays work out a more efficient way to fill out their roster financially. But even if it isn’t, the Rays are willing to pay whatever it takes to make sure Myers is on their major league roster. The Rays are so enamored by Myers’ talent that they are changing all their typical strategies–and in return, they hope that Myers will change their fortune the rest of the season.